John Klinke, Director, Oracle Industry Strategy Group
Guest Author: Oracle Partner RF-SMART
When it comes to managing inventory, there are key indicators you can use to determine the efficiency of your supply chain. Whether you’re a manufacturer or retailer, a large multinational or growing start-up, it’s in your best interest to achieve high inventory accuracy - and as quickly as possible. In doing so, you’ll improve your customer satisfaction rate, and ultimately, your bottom line.
Accurate inventory boils down to having a reliable, up-to-date view of your stock—whether it resides in a warehouse, manufacturing site or retail store. But it’s not enough to only have this information available for office staff and selected individuals; for a seamless and connected supply chain, every worker that interacts with your inventory should have real-time visibility of your stock. The impact of this can quickly spread:
It can be challenging to move away from routines and practices that are embedded in your operations. One common example is the use of manual paper-based processes. Many businesses still record goods received at the warehouse on paper first—then manually input this data into their ERP. In doing so, they create two opportunities for human error: jotting down incorrect item information when goods arrive and entering inaccurate data into the ERP later on.
This practice contributes to the overarching issue of poor visibility. The bottom line is that if you can’t accurately record and retrieve inventory data in real-time, problems are likely to arise throughout your supply chain.
The first step towards inventory accuracy is understanding your existing processes. By identifying where inefficiencies already exist in your operations, you can create a strategy for tackling and optimizing the relevant factors.
The next step is implementing a mobile inventory management solution. In practice, this involves using handheld devices in the warehouse and on the shop floor, which allow workers to scan your stock at every touchpoint. From receiving, to counting, to picking and shipping—mobile inventory management lets you feed real-time data into your ERP at every stage of the journey. Workers can immediately look up item quantities and locations, helping them pick and pack orders more efficiently, and sales and support teams can provide customers with accurate product information faster—increasing satisfaction.
Most importantly, mobile inventory management will allow you to eliminate error-prone paper-based processes, saving you time and money. By using the handheld devices as soon as stock enters the warehouse, workers no longer need to perform manual counts or data-entry, significantly reducing the risk of human error. Mobile solutions are also much more intuitive and easier to navigate than comprehensive ERP systems, meaning they can be adopted by warehouse and shop floor staff very quickly. Training becomes a faster process, especially as employees no longer must learn to use multiple systems.
While mobile inventory management addresses many of the functional challenges obstructing inventory accuracy, without fluid access to inventory data, the risks for human error and manual processes still linger. This was the case for Oracle customer Albelli. With significant growth projected for the coming year, this European manufacturer and e-retailer needed a scalable solution that would support their expansion.
Albelli decided to switch from an on-premise ERP to Oracle Cloud SCM, simultaneously implementing RF-SMART’s mobile inventory management solution. They knew that by migrating to the cloud, they would no longer have to worry about data back-ups or limited accessibility. As Oracle Cloud SCM can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection on a multitude of devices, Albelli’s team could now respond to live issues in the warehouse at any time of day without the need for a VPN. Through leveraging these benefits, they can now support a two-day delivery window for their customers.
So, what would a cloud-based mobile inventory management system look like for you? It’s clear that greater connectivity can have a significant impact on your balance sheet, but how does it impact your supply chain?
Supply chain technology can help you achieve a more connected enterprise—but whether it’s worth the investment and effort of changing your business practices is up to you to decide.
If you can relate to any of the challenges we’ve covered, it’s worth exploring what steps you can take to improve your inventory accuracy. From operational best practices to implementing technology, it comes down to embracing change that is proven to benefit your business.
RF-SMART is a global leader in mobile inventory management solutions with over 35 years of experience. Working directly with Oracle’s Product Team, RF-SMART developed a real-time application that delivers functionality for Inventory, Manufacturing and PAR Management for Oracle Cloud SCM. To date, they have improved accuracy, productivity and profitability for over 800 cloud customers worldwide.